Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brontës - It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Anne Brontë’s writings, and those of her sisters Emily and Charlotte Brontë as well. There are other writers who I lo...
13 hours ago
Publick Transport’s work is a melange of a show that takes moments from the novels, parts of the lives and the tropes of gothica, tosses and shakes them together and then mixes it with its own physical clowning to create a show that takes the form of a sketch review. At a fringe-friendly 55 minutes, it is enjoyably witty and inventive but distinctly undernourishing. We learn more about the writers or their lives and the writers’ characters when taken in isolation, don’t have the pull, the comic charm or the grotesquery of that greatest of Victorian novelists Charles Dickens. We see Jane and Rochester from Jane Eyre, Cathy and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights but for those of us whose knowledge of these books doesn’t go much beyond the crib notes, we can be left feeling a little in the dark. It’s rare to hear a demand for a longer running time in the theatre but this is one that could do with adding another 30 minutes to it.The Independent reviews Mick Jackson's Yuki Chan in Brontë Country.
If the content is not as realised as it could be, its presentation can’t be faulted. Angus Barr resembling a jaundiced Russell Brand and Sarah Corbett are striking stage presences with an ease in their physicality and confidence in their ability to think on their feet, which allows them to break the fourth wall and even hold a mid-show Q&A when they tackle potentially loaded questions with aplomb. There are wonderful visual moments, a book turning into a fluttering bird, the performers using their bodies to represent the howling winds and a scene involving a tap that may already be a favourite piece of staging this year.
The eponymous heroine has taken a trip to Haworth along with rather more elderly Brontë aficionados, but for different reasons. She has with her five photographs from when her mother made a similar trip, and hopes that her unique form of psychic detective work will bring some form of closure to the relationship. [...]And Foyles has updated its Mick Jackson page with a Q&A about the novel.
There is outright satire in the culture clash of Japanese tourists and Brontë industry: Yukiko's first impression is "how very brown everything is … London and Leeds had nothing like this level of brownness. Perhaps it is brought on by local industry. Or some rural, Northern mould". Then it morphs into slapstick. As Yukiko tries to align her mother's five photographs with local landmarks, she variously slips, trips, freezes, tumbles and is even bitten by a dog. (Stuart Kelly)
What gave you the idea for your book? I read an article in The Guardian about 15 or 20 years ago, which said that the signposts on the moors around Haworth are the only ones in the UK in both English and Japanese, due to the huge popularity of the Brontës in Japan. I cut the article out and kept coming back to it. Of course, it’s often not till much later that you work out why a particular idea appeals to you. But it was clearly something to do with the juxtaposition of two quite different cultures. There was something rather charming about a group of middle-aged Japanese women wandering around the moors in West Yorkshire in the drizzle, heading out towards Top Withens.The Weekly Times thinks that Wuthering Heights lives on in Debra Adelaide's The Women’s Pages.
Can you account for the Japanese obsession with the Brontës, they even have their own society in Japan, don’t they? Not really, if I’m honest. While I was working on the book I must have interviewed thirty or forty Japanese women, some of whom were visitors and some whom live over here – including the person who used to be employed at the Tourist Information in Haworth whose sole job was to deal with the Japanese tourists – and I’ve never felt that I quite got to the bottom of it. My best guess is that Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights were set texts in schools for a particular generation. Also, that those books – or movie adaptations which were shown on Japanese TV – have come to represent a certain idea of Englishness. Something of the gothic seems to chime with the Japanese sensibility. But part of their love of the Brontës’ novels and the myth that’s grown up around the authors must be the same as it is everywhere else.
Did you find yourself spending time in ‘Brontë country’ in order to soak up the atmosphere as well as the details of how and where they lived? Yes. Haworth’s not far from where I grew up in East Lancashire, so we’d go there for day trips when I was a kid. Perhaps that’s another reason I wanted to do something with the story – the fact that Haworth represented the industrial North of England, frozen in time. So I went back up there to do a little recce, without quite knowing what form the project might take, and was fairly sceptical, but as I parked up in the car park at the edge of town a coach pulled up beside me and forty Japanese women, in their fifties and sixties, disembarked. I took this as a sign. It took me a long time to work out what to do with it. But on that first visit I just did my usual thing – what most writers would do, I imagine – which is wander round and note down any odd little detail … things that might help me later on. But the landscape and the feel of the place felt familiar as it’s only about twenty-five miles to the east of where I was born.
Yuki imagines an alternative life for the Brontë siblings in which they are highwaymen and rabble rousers. Do you think we still over-romanticise them and for that matter, others of our important literary figures? Oh, yes – without doubt. I don’t think we can help but do that. We romanticise everything, all the time – mythologize, by our very nature. Especially when it comes to writers and artists. Whenever we present them we have this terrible tendency to have them succumb to these crazed fits of creativity – or have them experience these overwhelming epiphanies. Creative individuals are reduced to semi-religious savants. In my experience most of the creative experience is the donkey work of research or revision, which by definition is pretty dull from a spectator’s point of view. So on the one hand, we over-dramatize the process and on the other we reduce it … make it simplistic.
But we do this with everyone, and writers are major offenders, so I can’t really criticize. We cannibalize people’s lives, picking out what we find interesting and scuttle off to our garrets to knock together our little Frankensteins. And as a reader I have my favourite writers and part of loving someone’s books is the misplaced notion that you have any idea of the person who created them.
We’ve no real notion what Charlotte or Emily were like as human beings – not really. But the mythology that’s grown up around them was part of what made me want to write the book. If anything, it’s the myth that I’m scratching away at, rather than anything to do with the Brontës themselves. That and the idea of people coming halfway round the world to visit the parsonage and walk up and down the cobbled streets as an act of pilgrimage. And I can recognize it in myself – when I see the tiny books that the Brontës made as children, or the dresses they wore, or the chaise on which Emily is said to have died it’s hard not to feel that these objects might possess some trace of the people who owned them.
Of course, Yuki is on her own very personal pilgrimage, relating to her mother. The passage in which she imagines the Brontës abandoning their writing in favour of becoming highwaywomen was just a flight of fancy. She grows a little tired of the reverence being shown towards them along with this suggestion of graceful suffering and just wants to imagine them as individuals capable of recklessness and fun.
Dove, 38, is grappling with the grief of the death of her mother who, on her deathbed, requested Dove read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights to her. As Dove read this literary classic, a character of her own creation named Ellis emerged with such clarity that Dove was compelled to write her own novel. [...]Wuthering Heights is also mentioned by The Guardian in an article on inviting readers not to 'read classic books because you think you should: do it for fun!'
This beautiful literary work is a triumph to the act of reading, writing and Adelaide’s lifelong love affair with Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. (Edwina Hall)
Author Sophie Hannah joined in [with the following tweet]:Wuthering Heights is one of the '8 Books For Your Fav 'High School Musical' Star' selected by Bustle.
@SarahGPerry Wuthering Heights: Fifty Shades meets Location, Location
(Incidentally, I reread Wuthering Heights for the first time in years over Christmas, after being swept up by Alison Case’s excellent repositioning of the story, Nelly Dean. I still loved it, but reading it as an adult rather than a teenager … oof, it’s crazy.) (Alison Flood)
8. Ms. Darbus: Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontëAnd Catherine and Heathcliff also appear on another Bustle list: '15 Dysfunctional Literary Couples, Ranked'.
And of course, there's the magnificent Ms. Darbus. Her love for dramatics and her distaste for modern things like cellphones point to a classic melodrama. If you find yourself nodding along as she talks about a "precious cornucopia of creative energy," then Wuthering Heights is probably the book for you. (Emma Oulton)
4. Catherine and Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontëAnd one more Bustle selection today: '9 Fiction Books To Try If You Love Nonfiction', one of which is
Catherine and Heathcliff are sort of like a reverse Lizzie Bennett and Mr. Darcy. While their connection is evident from the very start, Catherine believes that it's beneath her to marry a foundling such as Heathcliff, an opinion that the Roma orphan does not take very well. This sets off decades of animosity and passion; needless to say that it doesn't end happily for anyone. However, I can't help but want these deeply unhappy people to somehow find happiness together. These two would rank higher were they not a favorite of Edward and Bella's. (Catherine Kovach)
6. Becoming Jane Eyre: A Novel by Sheila KohlerThe Daily Mail has an article on a recent talk by Indian author Ruskin Bond.
Travel back to Victorian England amidst the Yorkshire moors, and watch the Brontë sisters come to life in Sheila Kohler's fictional biography, Becoming Jane Eyre. Intimate and inventive, this historical fiction novel just may inspire more fiction reading (hint: Jane Eyre). (Sadie L. Trombetta)
Bond also talked about his growing up years. He had a troubled childhood - a fate that he shares with many well-known authors.The Times reviews the current exhibition at The Foundling Museum in London: Drawing on childhood and describes the museum's café:
“Many famous writers have had difficult childhoods. Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters, for example. I think if you have a lonely childhood, it makes you sensitive to the problems of other children,” he said. (Srijani Ganguly)
Heathcliff, Heidi, Harry Potter, Batman, Scarlett O’Hara, Prince Caspian, Superman — what do these fine folk have in common, other than ferocity and fame? They were all orphans — and now their names are printed large on the walls of the Foundling Museum’s café, the first stop in a new exhibition that celebrates some of the best illustrations of fictional children. (Alex O’Connell)Speaking of London, this columnist from the Evening Standard discusses its 'filthy air'.
As I cycled to work this morning, Kensington High Street had the whiff of a smoking lounge. I’ve had a cold and I later found myself coughing at my desk, sounding like a consumptive Brontë sibling. (Rosamund Urwin)And the Spenborough Guardian is giving away a Valentine's spa break for two at the Gomersal Park Hotel which is ok except for this comment:
The hotel was built as a private house in 1805 and one of the early occupants was Ellen Nussey, whose friend, novelist Charlotte Brontë, was a visitor.Early occupant it was not, as Ellen Nussey move to Moor Lane House in 1895 (just two years before her death in 1897). Charlotte Brontë, needless to say was hardly a visitor, you know, being dead and all that.